P. Diddy's AmEx card and other sordid credit card crimes

By Features CardRatings.com

Whenever we take a look at the latest credit card crimes, it's hard not to be struck by how hard some of these criminals work in trying to get credit cards from their victims. With some of them, you can't help but think, "If only they used their ingenuity for good…" So this time, we're going to grade our thieves' efforts. To see how they did, read on.

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Latest celebrity credit card theft

We'd be remiss not to mention that TMZ reported this week that some enterprising individual obtained hip-hop mogul P. Diddy's credit card number and put it on a website, along with his passport number and private phone number. It was his American Express Centurion Card, also known as the "black card," and it's a card that caters to the wealthiest people in the world. Which, I suspect, means that Diddy isn't really all that angry about the transgressions, as some media outlets have reported. He can probably afford to pay someone to be angry for him.

Instructor's comments: Since crimes against celebrities aren't exactly anything new, the grade for originality isn't quite as high as it might have been. Plus, the effort of putting some information on a website isn't all that impressive. It isn't clear whether this was intended to be a crime, or if someone had a run-in with the rapper and posted all his personal information just to be a jerk. That said, it certainly was a crime against the famed businessman, and the grade is saved by the guts it took the perpetrator to diss Diddy.

Grade: B

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Neither rain, nor snow, nor photo ID…

NorthJersey.com reports that Detective Sergeant Joseph Soto recently arrested a 41-year-old woman who is a post office employee in Wyckoff, N.J. What was the charge? She allegedly took a credit card that had been left at the post office counter by a customer and then trotted over to a store and tried to buy some gift cards.

I guess it didn't work, because she was arrested. Well, someone in Wyckoff read about the sinister deed of the postal service employee and thought, "Hmmm, that's familiar," and called the police to mention that they had left a credit card at the post office and someone had made an unauthorized purchase on it.

Detective Soto, apparently realizing that this wasn't some mysterious Bermuda Triangle where credit cards are just misplaced and then misused, apparently had an inkling that this woman he had arrested might be involved. After some digging, he learned that his suspect had also used the credit card to buy $440 in postage stamps.

She is currently free and apparently waiting to see a judge.

Instructor's comments: Our criminal here didn't demonstrate much forethought; it appears she merely took advantage of a careless customer. But because we're grading on a curve, she does better than she might have otherwise.

Grade: C

Credit card crime: The tried-and-true approach

News 9 in Oklahoma City recently reported that a couple was returning to their home when two men and a woman came forward and brandished a gun. Then they stole the couple's credit cards and cash and were soon being spotted on surveillance video at a convenience store using, naturally, the aforementioned credit cards.

Instructor's comments: Well, who isn't going to be able to get a credit card when you wave a gun around. Big deal. Absolutely no creativity whatsoever. Of course, if they're reading this, they don't care, and must feel that they were a big success, since they're still at large as of this writing. So although it's tempting, we can't really justify giving them a failing grade.

Grade: D

No good deed goes unpunished

The Miami Herald recently printed a little item in a crime blotter that on Sep. 22 a woman tried to stop a fight between several kids. When she returned to her car, her purse, loaded with credit cards, $300 in cash, and her identification, was gone.

Instructor's comments: Was it planned this way, in hopes that a good Samaritan would come along, or was it a spontaneous crime, in which some sleazebag seized an opportunity? We just don't know. In the academic world, this would get a big mark saying "Source??"

Grade: Incomplete

My daughter-in-law, the credit card thief?

So, if the charges reported by the Times Daily (Florence, Ala.) are true, Rhonda Medina and her boyfriend, Rodney Peden, both 34, were going to clean a man's carpet, and convinced their customer to let them use his credit card to buy cleaning supplies. Well, they bought some supplies for $70, all right, but they also took out cash advances of $500 at several ATMs. Police caught up with them and found out there was a little more to the story.

On another occasion, Medina had gone to her boyfriend's mother and informed her that Peden had been kidnapped. Medina then said that she needed her future mother-in-law's food stamp card, in order to pay off a debt, and then Peden would be released. That didn't pass the smell test to the mother, so she refused, and the next thing she knows, Medina grabbed the card and ran.

Instructor's comments: Our criminals pose as carpet cleaners and somehow get their customer to agree to pony up his credit card. That must have been one heck of a sales pitch. As for the attempt to get the food stamp card, one has to admire Medina's imagination, but one wonders what kind of person is OK with the idea of telling someone that their son was kidnapped.

If we were grading on humanity and ethics, Medina would be receiving a failing grade. But for the novel approach of using psychology and sleight-of-hand instead of a weapon-based approach like we've seen over and over, only one grade is possible in a case like this. Congratulations, Ms. Medina, for scoring the highest grade in the class. You receive…well, nothing.

Grade: A

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